I found the Oaxaca area full of life and color from its array of people to its gorgeous flowers, dramatic arts, spiritual /ornate churches and delicious food. It was enchanting and a place I hope to experience over and over in coming years.
It was obvious Janie loves the Oaxaca area and it's people. Her personal relationships with local Oaxacans made our trip so much richer. She believes strongly in culturally sensitive tourism and models respect and shared learning between tourists and local citizens. Her genuine enthusiasm to help me experience multi facets of this beautiful area made my trip one of the best I have ever had!
- Peggy, from North Carolina
Janie's knowledge, experience and know how helped to take the guessing out of what kind of experience I wanted to have. There is an ease about which she approaches travel. She has a gift of pursuing rich and rewarding experiences daily. She's the master of truly savoring moments while traveling. She's also never met a stranger, a "people magnet" which always adds to the experience.
- Pat, from Texas, USA
I have been to Oaxaca 3 times now with Open Heart Tours - most recently July 2019 - and I enthusiastically recommend this company and its owner and tour guide, Janie. Her trips include everything I want in a tour: good time organization, comfortable and convenient lodgings, tasty food, varied and culturally informative activities, opportunities to interact with local individuals in a non-commercial way, shopping venues that allow me to spend my dollars with women and families who make beautiful things yet live in relative poverty, and of course the chance to meet fellow travelers who love to explore and also want to contribute to the people whose hospitality we are enjoying. Every trip includes a tour of several small woman-owned businesses with Fundación En Via, a microlending nonprofit offering no-interest microloans (funded by such tours) and business support to women in several Zapotec villages near Oaxaca City. All tour groups also visit, and can bring needed school supplies to, the Casa de Esperanza Infantil, a support center for children receiving educational sponsorship through Oaxaca Street Children Grassroots. Both of these nonprofits are making a big difference in the lives of their clients, and it is heartening to see how much can be done with very little money by US standards. Lest you think this is primarily a donating trip, let me hasten to add that I have had ENORMOUS fun on each trip. Day of the Dead is one celebration after another, and the Guelagetza Festival in July is nearly as much so. There are outdoor concerts, impromptu street performances, much decoration and costuming, and a general feeling of joy that permeates the festivities. As a foodie, I love the excellent restaurants with their offerings of the complex Oaxacan cuisine, including a broad selection of mezcal cocktails. (Wine, not so much. Not a wine culture.) There are several day trips outside the central city area, to villages known for particular crafts as well as to weekly village markets, and perhaps an overnight visit to a community of villages in the mountains outside the city. Oaxaca has several archaeological ruins, the most important being Monte Alban, and OHT hires a delightful, helpful, and endlessly knowledgeable local guide to provide the history and interpretive information when the groups visit these sites. The Oaxacan people are warm, playful and welcoming toward visitors who engage them, and that, along with the open and generous atmosphere Janie creates for her clients, helps create an experience well beyond simple tourism. If you enjoy unscheduled time to wander the city on your own, as I do, it is easy to do this. You may miss an activity to do it, but everyone is free to choose what they want to participate in and when they want to opt out. I very much appreciate this aspect of OHT tours, since by day 4 I usually need some solo time. There's always a museum not on the itinerary, or a shop, or a park that each participant wants to check out, or return to, and you will be able to do that. That said, no matter how much unscheduled time is in the itinerary, we always quickly find things we want to do that fill it all up! So don't plan a lot of naps. Last but not least, I think OHT tours are excellent value for the very reasonable price. And of course, the prices of restaurants, clothing, and arts/crafts are much lower than in the U.S. The trip, then, offers huge bang for the buck as well as all that joy and cultural exploration. If Oaxaca is on your bucket list, OHT is a great way to get there.
- Denise, from New Mexico
Everywhere we went was the best and a week was not enough! I can't wait to go back and see more. I feel that Oaxaca could have something new and wonderful to offer over a lifetime of visits!
- Angie, from New Mexico
Janie is warm, witty, fun, kind, generous and amazingly well informed and connected to all things Oaxacan! I wouldn't have been able to visit local artisans in their homes, find the wonderful guide who taught us history, art and archaeology or eaten at delicious and inexpensive restaurants!
- Sandy, from Texas
I went to Oaxaca with Janie, from Open Heart Tours. What a wonderful experience! We visited places I wouldn’t even have known existed, as well as Oaxaca’s must-sees and must-dos. We met with incredibly talented local craftspeople in their studios, visited a program that works with very low-income schoolchildren (and Janie encouraged us to bring supplies for those kids from the US if we wanted to), ate splendid foods, and just had a great time. Highly, highly recommended.
- Tara, from New Mexico